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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 17:47, June 13, 2004
Yin ruins: root of Chinese culture
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Since 1898, the Yin ruins have provided the world with over 150,000 oracle items.

Recording harvest, astronomical phenomena, worship and wars of the ancient Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C., also called the Yin Dynasty), the inscriptions on tortoise shells and animal bones from the Yin ruins are scattered throughout the world.

The oracles were regarded as one of the earliest written languages of the human being, which is respected as the forefather of Chinese characters today, and they had already aroused the interests of many of the world's scholars, said Yang Xizhang, an archaeologist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

They were the most convincing proof and the precious treasure of human civilization, and also the greatest contribution of the Yin ruins to the world, said Yang.

Located in Anyang, central China's Henan Province, the Yin ruins were the earliest remains of an ancient capital city, which had been excavated with written materials, said the archaeologist, and it topped the 100 greatest archaeological discoveries of China in the past century.

Covering an area of 30 square kilometers, there was a grand and well-equipped capital with palaces, a tomb district, a civil residence, a bronze casting workshop and worship sites on the ruins, Yang said.

Apart from the large amount of oracles, over 10,000 bronze wares, together with 54 ruins of palaces were excavated here.

Simuwu Ding, a four-legged bronze cauldron, 133 cm high and weighing 875 kg, was the biggest bronze ware ever discovered in the world.

Besides, the tomb of China's first female general, Fuhao, wife of one emperor of the Yin Dynasty, was also discovered in the ruins.

The biggest-scale excavation work of the Yin ruins was underway now, said Wang Wei, vice director of CASS' archaeological institution.

"We will try to unveil the life of both aristocrats and the commoners so as to have a panoramic view of society at that time," Wang said.

A state-level cultural heritage, the Yin ruins were listed for special preservation in 1961.

Duan Zhenmei, head of the Anyang cultural bureau, said the local government had established display rooms for oracles within the Yin ruins preserve, and the tomb of Fuhao together with 36 pits for worship had been restored as a recurrence of the ancient scene.

"A capital for 254 years, everything in the Yin ruins could have a story," said Duan, "and we shall go all out to preserve the ruins, letting people have their good imagination of the stories."

He said the newly-built 80-hectare Yin ruins park had attracted many visitors, who showed their special interest to the culture of that age.

Over 560 characters inscribed on shells and bones were selected to be displayed in the park, with annotations in modern Chinese and English.

Wang Zhixuan, a local who was responsible for the websites of the Yin ruins, said "We should know more about the oracles and more about the Yin ruins, from which we can find the root of Chinese culture."

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